International Federation for East Timor
Observer Project

Media Alert:
Militia Attacks in Dili

For immediate release
Dili, East Timor: 3:30 am Monday September 6
(taken down over the phone)

International Federation for East Timor (IFET) Observer Project
East Timor Field Office

Bairro Pite Kec.
RT/RW 01 (di depan SD 4)
Dili Barat, East Timor
Tel. 62-390-321969 fax:62-390-321264

About 8:30 or 9 pm in the evening, there was a militia attack on the Yayasan HAK office. The militias were there for one hour or more. There was automatic rifle fire into the building, in addition to other gunfire and rock-throwing. There were also some large explosions.

BRIMOB arrived at about 10:30 pm. They negotiated about the possibility of putting a guard around the building but this was not possible. Finally 38 people left the building with a BRIMOB escort and were taken to the Polda (police station). No injuries were sustained during the attack. There are fears that the office may be looted, smashed and burned.

Sometime after nightfall, about 8 pm, there were two attacks in different areas of Dili. They differed from previous attacks in that the gunfire was all from automatic rifles. An IFET observer reported "extreme bursts of gunfire for long periods of time". The attacks appeared to be systematically planned. In the past gunfire has been mostly from homemade guns with some automatic weapons, and has been more sporadic.

The first attack was near the UNAMET office. It was aimed at about 1,000 refugees sheltering in a nearby church. The gunfire came from the direction of a TNI post, but we can't know if it was TNI or militia who were shooting. The refugees fled to the UNAMET compound, some climbing over high walls and injuring themselves on the razor-wire on the walls in their attempt to escape the gunfire. There are no reports of deaths. The refugees are now in the UNAMET compound.

The second attack was in Bairro Pite, the neighbourhood of the IFET-OP office. We don't know the aim of this attack. It seemed to be in a housing area and aimed at intimidating an area that had not been heavily attacked before.

Gunfire died down, but then continued through the night. As this report was dictated at 3:30 am Dili time, observers could still hear gunshots and could see houses burning.

The International Federation for East Timor Observer Project is a U.N.-accredited election monitoring organization and the largest observer group in East Timor.  

Return to IFET's Main Page